×

Napa Valley Film Festival Cooks Up Tasty Slate of Films

Thanks to its convergence of film, food, and wine, the sixth annual Napa Valley Film Festival, running Nov. 9-13, has emerged as a festival favorite among Hollywood. Held in the villages of Napa, Yountville, St. Helena, and Calistoga, the five-day affair is attracting 120 independent films and 300 filmmakers who will enjoy access to 150 wineries and 50 chefs.

“This year is huge,” says Marc Lhormer, fest co-founder, executive and artistic director, noting that the fest is expecting roughly 50,000 total attendees over the course of the festival. “It feels like there’s been a big breakthrough in terms of the awareness of the festival and its reputation.”

NVFF will kick off with “Lion,” an awards-season contender that first garnered buzz after debuting at the Toronto festival earlier this year. Star Dev Patel is expected to attend as he’s also being honored at the festival. Other notable films and stars include “Bleed for This” with Aaron Eckhart, “The Book of Love” with Jessica Biel, “Captain Fantastic” with director Matt Ross and star Viggo Mortensen, “Generosity of Eye” with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Miss Sloane” with director John Madden, and “Youth in Oregon” with director Joel David Moore. Writer-director Alan Kropf will accompany closing-night documentary “Pisco Punch: A Cocktail Comeback Story.”

Additional screenings include “Burn Your Maps,” “Gleason,” “Mr. Church,” “The Red Turtle,” and Katie Holmes’ directorial debut “All We Had.”
Meanwhile, a celebrity tribute night will be held on Nov. 10 at the Lincoln Theater in Yountville to celebrate the cinematic achievements of up-and-coming and established talent. Among this year’s honorees are Patel and Mortensen in addition to Lee Daniels, Kurt Russell, Chloe Grace Moretz, Zoey Deutch, and Glen Powell. The presentation will include on-stage interviews conducted by “Access Hollywood’s” Natalie Morales and Kit Hoover. Afterwards, honorees will enjoy a lavish dinner courtesy of Estate Events by Meadowood.

While wine tastings will be available at most screening venues, the festival will also offer cooking demonstrations throughout the week at its Culinary Stage located on the Napa Riverfront. The festivities will kick off on Nov. 10 afternoon with Variety’s 10 to Taste, an event exclusive to NVFF’s high-rolling VIP attendees.

Presented by the Food Network and Cooking Channel, the program will feature dishes inspired by iconic food scenes as created by 10 young chefs. Variety editor Carole Horst will moderate the panel, which includes chef Tyler Florence.

“It went so well last year with Bobby Flay that I know it’s going to be another really fun highlight,” says Lhormer. “Complementing great cinematic storytelling with food and wine experiences is such a nice fit. In Napa, there is sense of craftsmanship. There’s a kinship between independent filmmaking and these small family-owned wineries, which are 95% of Napa’s wineries. Everyone has this hands-on approach. I think that’s similar to independent filmmaking.”

Other attractions include the annual pitch competition Nov. 13 at the festival’s Copia Screening Room, as well as the return of the Lexus Short Films series, which features four new films created by young filmmakers who received guidance from a producer at the Weinstein Co. Daniels will be on hand to host a conversation with the directors following the screenings. Additionally, Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino, the creators and producers behind “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life,” will participate in a panel about the show’s anticipated Netflix reunion.

“Napa Valley is a great destination,” says Lhormer. “It’s a relaxed, intimate, up-close encounter. I think the fact that everybody is pleasantly buzzed on wine all day long probably helps facilitate that. But you just can’t beat the experience.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • German Cinema Is Diverse, But Is

    German Cinema Is Varied, But Is It Too Risk Averse?

    One of the strengths of German cinema is its diversity, says Simone Baumann, managing director of the national film promotion agency German Films. As well as the three films at Toronto directed by female German helmers, there was also German filmmaker Thomas Heise’s documentary film essay “Heimat Is a Space in Time.” Then there were [...]

  • Female Filmmakers in Germany Make Progress

    Female Filmmakers Surge Forward in Germany, But Still Face Obstacles

    Four feature films by German filmmakers screened at the Toronto Film Festival, and three of them were directed by women – Angela Schanelec’s “I Was at Home, But…,” winner of the Berlinale’s best director prize, Ina Weisse’s “The Audition,” and Katrin Gebbe’s “Pelican Blood,” the latter two both starring Nina Hoss. Germany’s Oscar entry this [...]

  • Bull

    Annie Silverstein's 'Bull' Takes Top Awards, Robert Pattinson Starrer 'The Lighthouse' Wins Jury Prize at Deauville

    Annie Silverstein’s feature debut “Bull” swept three awards at the 45th Deauville American Film Festival, including the Grand Prize, the Revelation Prize for best first film and the Critics’ Prize. “Bull,” a portrait of a rebellious teenage girl from South Texas, world premiered at Cannes’s Un Certain Regard and marks Silverstein’s follow up to her [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Jennifer Lopez's 'Criminal' Striptease: How 'Hustlers' Landed the Fiona Apple Hit

    Contrary to what you might be expecting, the number of songs by Jennifer Lopez, Lizzo and Cardi B in “Hustlers,” their newly released acting vehicle, adds up to … zero. Meanwhile, the standout music sync in a movie that’s full of them belongs to no less likely a choice than Fiona Apple. The scene in [...]

  • Game of Thrones Season 8

    'Game of Thrones,' 'Avengers' Win Big at 45th Annual Saturn Awards

    As Jamie Lee Curtis picked up her first trophy ever at the 45th Annual Saturn Awards Friday night, she had a good luck charm on her arm: former manager Chuck Binder, whom she said was the reason she became an actor. “I was in college and had no thought of being an actor,” Curtis told [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu star

    Box Office: 'Hustlers' Dances Toward $32 Million Opening Weekend

    “Hustlers” is eyeing the biggest opening weekend ever for STXFilms, following a Friday domestic ticket haul of $13.1 million from 3,250 theaters. If estimates hold, the stripper saga could take home around $32 million come Sunday, marking the best live-action opening of Jennifer Lopez’s career. “Hustlers” follows a group of former strip club dancers, led [...]

  • Hustlers intimacy coordinator

    Meet the Stripper Consultant Who Gave 'Hustlers' Authenticity, Dignity and Sexual Freedom

    At last week’s Toronto Film Festival premiere of “Hustlers,” an audience of Hollywood heavyweights and Canadian locals applauded as a statuesque woman strutted on stage, rocking six-inch platform heels and a pastel tie-dye bodysuit. This adoration was not for stars Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu or Keke Palmer, nor was it for the film’s acclaimed writer-director [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content